CNN protects the Lions’ Den

A comparison to coverage at other media outlets exposes CNN’s strenuous efforts to create the false impression that raging Israeli soldiers are killing peaceful Palestinian civilians.

CNN logo. Credit: Flickr.
CNN logo. Credit: Flickr.
Tamar Sternthal
Tamar Sternthal
Tamar Sternthal is director of the Israel office of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

CNN is highly diligent when it comes to tracking the Palestinians’ most deadly days. Last month’s headline was “At least 4 Palestinians killed, dozens wounded in one of year’s deadliest Israeli West Bank raids.” On Wednesday, CNN conscientiously kept up the count, with the headline “Six killed by Israeli forces in the deadliest day for Palestinians this year.”

It’s dramatic and newsworthy information. And it’s also highly misleading if certain contextual information—such as the fact that those killed were terrorists—is ignored or downplayed.

Indeed, when it comes to the identity of the Palestinian casualties, the news network’s reporting is suddenly not so fastidious. To the contrary, the same journalists who so carefully report the numbers of Palestinian casualties also bury their violent activity. By highlighting the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire while obscuring the fact that all were engaged in terrorist activity or actually attacking Israeli forces when they were killed, CNN provides great cheer and sustenance to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who falsely charges Israel with “war crimes.”

Thus, at no point does yesterday’s article by Abeer Salman and Hadas Gold make clear that the five Palestinians killed in Nablus were all members of the Lions’ Den terror organization. Here’s how the story begins:

“At least six Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military on Tuesday, making it the deadliest day of violence in the occupied West Bank this year, CNN analysis of official Palestinian data showed.

“Five were killed in the old city of Nablus during an Israeli raid there, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. A sixth person was killed in Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, by Israeli live fire, the Ministry added, when Palestinian protestors took to the streets in response to the Nablus military operation.

“The raid in Nablus also left some 20 people injured, the ministry said.

“Israel said it was targeting Lions’ Den, a new militant group which emerged in Nablus this year and has targeted Israeli soldiers, killing at least two.”

Notably, the CNN reporters don’t even mention Lions’ Den until the fourth paragraph, and only touch on the identity of the casualties in the sixth, saying that Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid “added that the head of the Lions’ Den militant group and other militants were assassinated in the raid.”

CNN likewise buries the fact that the Israeli military targeted the organization’s bomb factory. Also in the lowly sixth paragraph, CNN’s Salman and Gold quote Lapid: the “terrorist laboratory of Lions’ Den was severely damaged.”

A comparison to coverage at other media outlets exposes the gravity of CNN’s strenuous efforts to bury the Lions’ Den, and the resulting false suggestion that raging Israeli soldiers are killing off peaceful Palestinian civilians.

Unlike CNN, The New York Times places the Lions’ Dean front and center in its story headlined “Deadly Israeli Raid Targets New Palestinian Militia.” The Times’ Isabel Kershner begins:

“Israeli forces carried out a major raid against a Palestinian militia in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday, killing a leader of the group and four other men, according to members of the militia and Palestinian officials.

“The predawn raid targeted the Nablus-based militia known as the Lions’ Den, which emerged this year and does not answer to any of the established Palestinian factions. Many Palestinians have championed the group’s fighters as popular heroes, in part because Israel’s occupation of the territory has dragged on for more than a half-century and become increasingly entrenched.

“Israel has blamed the Lions’ Den for a rise in shootings that it says are aimed at its troops and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including one that killed a soldier this month. It said that it had killed the group’s leader, Wadie al-Houh, in an exchange of gunfire, adding that he was the main target of the raid and was responsible for producing bombs and obtaining weapons for the group.”

Like The New York Times, the Associated Press also carries a headline tipping readers off to the basic fact that the Palestinian casualties were not innocent victims: “Israeli troops raid gunmen’s hideout; 5 Palestinians killed.” Indeed, AP’s straightforward first sentence reports: “Israeli forces raided a stronghold of an armed group in the occupied West Bank’s second-largest city, blowing up a bomb lab and engaging in a firefight, the military said Tuesday. Five Palestinians were killed and 20 were wounded, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.”

The Times and AP reasonably carried out their journalistic responsibilities in covering the Lion’s Den, the lead player in yesterday’s story. CNN, for its part, lent a protective hand to the Lions’ Den, as diligently as a vigilant lioness watching over her charges.

Tamar Sternthal is director of CAMERA’s Israel Office.

This article was originally published by CAMERA.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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